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Works James Moore and Thomas Girtin

The Ruined Gatehouse, Pevensey Castle

(?) 1793

Primary Image: TG0266a: James Moore (1762–99) and Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), The Ruined Gatehouse, Pevensey Castle, (?) 1793, graphite on wove paper, 22.5 × 16.6 cm, 8 ⅞ × 6 ½ in. Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (WA1916.20.27).

Photo courtesy of Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (All Rights Reserved)

James Moore (1762-1799) and Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • The Ruined Gatehouse, Pevensey Castle
(?) 1793
Medium and Support
Graphite on wove paper
22.5 × 16.6 cm, 8 ⅞ × 6 ½ in
Object Type
Collaborations; Outline Drawing
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; Sussex View

The Ruined Gatehouse, Pevensey Castle, from the East (TG0266)
Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2016


James Moore (1762–99); his widow, Mary Moore (née Howett) (d.1835); bequeathed to Anne Miller (1802–90); bequeathed to Edward Mansel Miller (1829–1912); bequeathed to Helen Louisa Miller (1842–1915); bought and presented anonymously to the Museum, 1916


Brown, 1982, p.472, no.1415 as 'Pevensey Castle' by James Moore

About this Work

This pencil drawing of the ruined gatehouse of Pevensey Castle in Sussex was made by Girtin’s first significant patron, the antiquarian and amateur artist James Moore (1762–99), and probably dates from the third and final tour he undertook to record the county’s medieval castles and churches. It is contained in an album assembled from fifty-three drawings that were acquired by the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, from Moore’s descendants after 1912. They were catalogued by David Brown as being by Moore himself, but Brown added a note to a sketch of St Clement’s Church, Hastings (TG0308), suggesting that Girtin may also have ‘taken a hand’ in the drawing (Brown, 1982, p.471). I think it is possible to go a step further and propose that, given up to half of the drawings in the album are significantly stronger than Moore’s generally unconvincing sketches (see source image TG0114), the professional artist had a ‘hand’ in many more of his patron’s outlines. In this case, such is the contrast in quality, that it is clear the drawing has been corrected and enhanced by a superior artist working over Moore’s sketch with a sharper and more richly toned piece of graphite. The drawing is typical of the way in which Moore’s tentative outlines have been firmed up, his faulty perspective corrected and an exuberant level of decorative detail added. The manner in which the artist varies the pressure applied to the graphite to introduce subtle variations in tone, even within the same line, is characteristic of Girtin’s fine draughtsmanship, and it was surely he who elaborated Moore’s on-the-spot drawing back in London on his patron’s return.

Girtin almost certainly did not visit Pevensey himself and, not surprisingly, he had difficulty in understanding Moore’s drawing. Whilst he was able to correct some details, other areas remain confusing and unresolved. The representation of the broad entranceway to the castle was particularly problematic, as can be seen from a contemporary photograph (see comparative image TG0266). This was partly blocked up at the time, but Moore’s faulty perspective has resulted in the confused mass of stones appearing concave in form, and the entrance bears no credible relationship with the round tower to the left. Perhaps it was for this reason that Girtin abandoned his watercolour version of Moore’s composition and left it incomplete (TG0266).

(?) 1795

The West Tower, St Clement’s Church, Hastings; Studies of a Horse in Harness and Numerous Architectural Details


1792 - 1793

The Albion Mills, Southwark, after the Fire


1793 - 1794

The Ruined Gatehouse, Pevensey Castle, from the East


1793 - 1794

The Ruined Gatehouse, Pevensey Castle, from the East


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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